In less than a week, Google or Google Play Store to be more specific, has been in the news for various reasons. On May 29th it hit the headlines for removing the popular Indian payments app ‘Mobikwik’ from the Store for having a link to the Aarogya Setu app. It has since then tweaked its ad policy to allow Aarogya Setu to be promoted by other apps. Even though Mobikwik was only following RBI guidelines, Google thought it was above India’s national health interests and removed the app.
Time and again tech companies have shown how much power they wield and in some cases how much power they shouldn’t wield. Banning leading Indian apps from the Play Store has become a pattern of sorts for Google in the past week. Recently it took down the ‘Remove China Apps’ app from its store for violating policies prohibiting apps that mislead users into removing or disabling third-party apps or modifying device settings or features. The app was getting considerable traction as the campaign to boycott china is gaining ground in India.
At the mercy of the giants
Another example was the removal of Mitron App, which was being touted as the Indian rival for TikTok. The app initially took flight after more and more users realised the perils of using highly intrusive Chinese apps for entertainment. The lesson for us as Indians, from all these instances, is that it is high time India developed its own tech infrastructure that can take on global tech giants like Google, Facebook, Twitter, and more. The amount of power these platforms hold is only increasing by the day and the Indian consumer and sometimes even billion-dollar companies are left at the mercy of such technology companies.
What’s even more interesting is the fact that these companies employ a significant number of Indians to develop the technology that they have. So, it is not a matter of ‘if’, but ‘when’ can India develop its own versions of these tech platforms. China, our next-door neighbour, for its own reasons has developed a set of alternatives to rival every new idea that comes out of the US. For Facebook they have WeChat, for Twitter, they have Weibo, for Google they have Baidu, for Amazon they have Alibaba, for Snapchat they have TikTok and the list goes on and on.
An opportunity like no other
Another reason Indian entrepreneurs and technologists should look at developing our own desi versions of everything is to put brakes on the amount of power and influence western platforms have. It is always in our nation’s interest to ensure that tech platforms that are related to online search and social media are owned and run by Indian entities. This will ensure that such companies stay in the ambit of our judiciary and will put India’s interests before everything else. China has been able to simultaneously develop homegrown alternatives and successfully keep western tech companies out of their country. The end goal here has always been the suppression of free speech and large scale social surveillance.
Indian entrepreneurs have the talent and expertise to successfully develop better versions of such platforms that better understand the complexities of India as a country and help everyone come together to celebrate our heritage and diversity. Developing our own operating systems, or mobile platforms, or social media sites is something that Indian entrepreneurs can successfully achieve for making the dream of Aatmanirbhar Bharat a reality.